SAMHSA to Talk Race, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Juvenile Justice with Youths

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has planned a group discussion next week between agency leaders and youths who have struggled with substance abuse and mental health disorders while being involved with the juvenile justice system.

The meeting will take place Monday and Tuesday and will include eight youths, selected using SAMHSA’s partners to provide a group with regional and demographic diversity, according to communications representative Meghan Casey.

The youths will meet with SAMHSA officials to help inform them about disproportionate minority contact, specifically when it comes to addressing mental health and substance abuse disorders among juvenile offenders.

Interaction with law enforcement, the presence of male role models and “how communities can collaborate to serve these youths to prevent them from being involved” are among the subjects that will be discussed, according to Casey.

Among the SAMHSA partners tapped to find youths for the discussion was Youth Move National, which is based in Hattiesburg, Miss., but has ties for the Milwaukee-based Alliance for Children and Families.

SAMHSA intends to use information from the meetings internally, and also turn out some product for service providers and advocates, Casey said.

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